Taking Ebooks Back to Books?

Is bookbinding a dead profession?

I hope not. At the very least I’d like to know there are still people who can repair and restore old books.

But, I’d really like to see bookbinding become popular – taking ebooks to a new level.

I almost never read any ebook I have downloaded. Maybe younger people will change their habits enough to include ebook computer time. I find I want a real book, paperback or hardcover, to take me away from the computer. I love reading in bed. I’ve always got a book in my purse to bring out while I have coffee somewhere, wait for a bus, or just find a time and place to read.

If the ebooks were on paper I might read them. But, I don’t really want more computer time when I am not working on computer/ Internet things. I’d read all those ebooks if they were converted into books. I wonder if something like that will come along some day?


Since 1983 the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild has worked to support the development of the book arts in Canada. This web site is dedicated to that effort. The book arts include bookbinding, artists’ books, papermaking, calligraphy, letterpress printing and typography, wood engraving, paper decorating, restoration, and conservation.

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild

Miranda, The Ghost Next Door

miranda1I read a book about a ghost named Miranda, when I was about 12, and I’ve been haunted by it ever since. I could not remember the title, the author or anything else very helpful. But, it seems I had a lot more in my mental storage than I thought.

On impulse I searched for “Miranda ghost book” today and I found it! I was sure it was the same book as soon as I saw the book cover! I felt that connection to myself from so long ago. I remember how I felt then. A feeling of loss, sadness and the drive to never forget Miranda. I even decided I would name my first daughter, Miranda. (I never had a daughter but today I’ve read at least two other women named their daughter Miranda based on this book).

The book was written by Wylly Folk St. John and is titled The Ghost Next Door.

The best place to read more about Wylly Folk St. John was all the blog posts and photos from  Elizabeth Harper, her great-niece.

I don’t have a clear memory of the facts from the story but all the feelings are still there. Looking into the book again today the feelings are coming back, almost as fresh as the day I turned the last page when I was reading the book.

The book seems to be out of print now. Maybe the publishers thought the story had become too dated to sell. There is another edition but it lacks the illustration from Trina Schart Hyman.


GoodReads: Wylly Folk St. John

GoodReads: The Ghost Next Door

Sherry Alston had never been told about her dead half-sister Miranda. So when Sherry came to visit her Aunt Judith, no one could explain the odd things that started to happen. Who was the elusive friend Sherry said she saw in the garden? Was she an imaginary playmate – or could she be the ghost of Miranda who had drowned in the pond years ago? Uncanny reminders of Miranda began to turn up – a blue rose, a lost riding whip…

Wylly Folk St. John’s house has been preserved as part of the historic preservation society.

Amazon: Wylly Folk St. John

Disney made her Secrets of the Pirates’ Inn into a TV movie. I found the full movie (1969) on YouTube.

Writers of Old Books Don’t Have Twitter Accounts

Reading an old book is interesting because you know the writer is long deceased. The book is like something frozen at one point in time, the story will never change to reflect the modern use of cell phones and you can’t ever contact the writer on Twitter to offer a review of their book.

I do like to look up writers when I am reading their books. I like to see what kind of internet presence they have, do they make use of their Twitter account (if they have one) do they keep their blog/ site updated about upcoming books and give readers tidbits about past books? Do they write a bit about themselves, telling us who they are and why they wrote the story they wrote? I like the odd note about their journey to get the book researched, written and then published.

You can’t do all that with a book written 100 years ago. The writer isn’t going to be answering your email any time soon. It’s a funny feeling, a little eerie/ spooky. Kind of sad too.

What was the last book you read which was older – so old it was written before you were born or more than 100 years ago? If you have never read an old book, why not?

What to do with Broken Books

book drunkardBooks get broken. Some can be repaired. Some aren’t worth repairing but could be repurposed/ upcycled instead. Book art is nice to see but, I think it needs to be practical so we aren’t just creating clutter but something useful too.

I don’t have many hard cover books these days. I miss them.

When you buy a book now it’s either a paperback or a bigger sized paperback book. Very few books are published and distributed as real hard covers any more. In stores they seem to think those big sized paperback books are the new hard cover books. They’re wrong. I think they just don’t want to reduce the price. But, do they really think we are that easily fooled?

The old hard cover books, the real hard covers, needed some extra looking after once in awhile. The old bookbinding sometimes came a bit unravelled if the book were well read many times. We would recover the book. We used wallpaper left over from a home decorating project, drawing paper from architectural drawings my Dad didn’t need any more, or plastic which was intended as drawer liners but worked very well as book covers too.

It wasn’t just book covers that took abuse. We taped up pages and made home made repairs to the book spines too. Tape wasn’t the best choice for fixing pages though. After time the tape would get yellowy and sometime after that it would eventually lose its stickiness and fall right off as if it were just an ordinary piece of plastic. I guess, by that time, it was.

Helpful Links

Books Beyond Saving Can be Upcycled

Not all old books can be saved.

Sadly I lost a few boxes full of books when the water heater tank leaked and eventually cracked down in our basement at one house. No one noticed right away. So there was water on the floor awhile. The boxes were in the same room, sitting in the water. The water was soaked up into the cardboard box and into the books.

The books on the bottom were the worst off. Some were mildewed and I wasn’t even able to pick them up due to allergies to mould and mildew. Books in the middle were water logged, thickened with wavy pages. They couldn’t be saved. No store would have taken them in trade and I couldn’t keep them due to the allergies. Most of them were past being readable anyway. Some books on the top were not too bad. But, I was so disheartened I wrote them all off.

We burned them all. At that house we had a large backyard on the edge of a small rural town. So burning out in the back garden was ok.

Burning isn’t the only option for books beyond saving. If the pages are okay still you can do a lot in creating book art. Books in bad shape can still be used, just in different ways.

Be Creative but Practical Too

I think there is one very important thing to keep in mind when we repurpose books or anything else. That is to keep the repurposing functional. Yes, a lot of the book art is cool or interesting to see, but where will it be a year from now even? Will we still like it, want to keep it and want to give it space in our home – or will it just become one more piece of stuff we have around adding to the clutter?

There should be new value added to anything we repurpose. If we are just creating mindlessly or for the joy of the moment then are we really repurposing and upcycling at all? Or are we just giving the book a temporary stay of execution?

I think it’s very important to find new uses for old things but they should actually be useful.

If you can’t fix them… repurpose them!

What to do with your Old Books

It’s very hard to part with an old book, or a book you mean to read, someday. But, there comes a time for every book lover when the amount of books is a bit overwhelming and we need to narrow down the stacks of books just a little…

It is TOO easy to pile up an assortment of books. I confess, I’m a book hoarder. Once they stop being tidy, displayed on a bookshelf, you stray from being a book collector to being a book hoarder. That’s how I feel about it, for myself at the very least. I have books on my shelves. But, I have books in two large-sized storage containers too. Then there are a few stragglers on a dresser, in the dresser of another room… etc. There are more books than I can read.

For me the fiction books are not hard to deal with. I don’t keep any of them once I have read them. I used to keep some, favourites and those I wanted to read as part of a series. Now, I read them and remove them from my home. Otherwise, they just pile up – all too literally.

  • Could you Sell Your Old Books?
    Are you a book lover in need of some space? The best way to make space for more books is to let some of your old books depart for other homes. It’s not easy. But, you can sell your own books.

Get Rid of Your Unwanted Books (Make Space for More)

  • Recycle and repurpose old books into book art.
  • Donate your books to the local library or a charity.
  • Take your books to the thrift store or the Salvation Army to find new readers.
  • Trade your books at the second hand book store.
  • Exchange books with friends, relatives and co-workers.
  • Leave books for someone to find. (Like BookCrossing).

 Trading/ Selling Books to a Second Hand Book Store

One simple way to sell your old books is to find a second hand book store and trade them in for store credits. This is my first choice. I like knowing the book will be read again, recycled and reused. I also like being able to choose new books and getting a discount on them when I have brought in old books. This is budget friendly.

Some second hand book stores will not buy books. They will only trade for store credit. This is great for me because I love having a little credit left for the next book shopping spree I go on. Not everyone wants to buy more books though. So, check with the bookstore before you bring in a sack of books expecting to come out of the store with cash for them.

Also, if you want to sell books the store will only give about an eighth of the original cover price. If you are trading for store credit you can get a quarter of the original cover price.

Let Someone Else Find your Books

Keep Track of your Books Online (Don’t Buy Doubles)


Could you Sell Your Old Books?

I have a lot of books, too many books really. It’s so hard to resist an interesting book. I find them with the new books and I like the way they smell. I find vintage, retro and just plain old books at the thrift store and the second hand book stores (one of my favourite places).

I’ve begun trying to limit buying books. I really need to because I’ve got a hoard of books, more than I have storage space for really. So, I’m sorting my books and trying to part with some – even some that I would love to read but have to be practical and realize I will (in reality) never have enough time to myself to read all these books.

People who don’t love or hoard books don’t understand the love of books. My family are not book people. They read them and forget them. Some of them seldom read anything more than the occasional street sign or grocery flyer. But, I love the non-fiction books. I want to find out more about everything. As a kid I wanted to know about everything and I wondered how long it would take me to learn it all. I estimated I’d be in my thirties by the time I was done. As a kid, that seems old but, as a kid, the world seems much smaller too. In reality, as an adult, the more I learn the more I know I have yet to learn.

So then what…? I’m taking a look into selling my books. I bought them in the first place, who better than myself to know the advantages of owning such a great and interesting book?

My Friend (Deanna) Has Written about Selling Books Online and Kindly Gave me the Interview Below

An Interview with an Experienced Book Seller

Before we begin, please introduce yourself and give us a summary with your experience as a book reviewer and seller.

I’ve been reviewing books online for over a decade, and as a result, have review copies filling my mail box weekly. (Please note, there are precautions to selling review copies; not everyone knows or respects the rules!) I’ve been selling books as well as antiques and collectibles online since 1997, I believe it was… That includes buying, and then selling, entire estates full of books. And I’ve been reading and collecting books for decades, of course.

Do you consider yourself a book collector? What do you think makes one person a book collector versus someone who reads books or someone who hoards books – where do you draw the line?

I actually believe there are several categories of bibliophiles. There are readers, those who just love to read but do not need to keep or save books or periodicals. There are the book lovers, magazine lovers, etc., who need the objects themselves. Then there are the collectors, who consider the pursuit of works as important as the keeping of them. As for hoarding, there’s the seriously negatively impacting disorder which is pathologically compulsive (which I’m not capable of addressing) and the state hoarding which many of us joke about doing. As someone who professionally writes about collecting, I’d say the true distinctions between “collecting” and “hoarding” are about the focus in the accumulation of and care of that is given to the objects themselves.

For the record, I am a book-reading, book-loving, book-collecting bibliophile!

Are there different methods of selling books online, beyond using sites like eBay?

Oh there are likely hundreds of options! It depends upon what kind of books you have, as well as your personal goals and preferences. Each site or marketplace varies as much in audience (types of buyers) as they do in their terms or conditions and fees. It’s not just a matter of what sites you like or trust, but where the buyers are for specific types of books and how much they are willing to pay. This not only affects how much money you are likely to get for your book, but how quickly you are likely to get it too. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year.

Along with online marketplaces, there’s also just tossing up your own site, using PayPal buttons for purchasing. Blogging software, like WordPress, now offers ecommerce plugins so that you can sell online easily. Of course, those options require you driving your own traffic to get sales, but the rewards can be greater too.

Where have you found your most success as a book seller?

Matching the book for sale to the appropriate sales platform in order to get it in front of the largest group of most likely buyers is really important.That’s how you get the best prices for your items.

Do you sell books offline, in flea markets for example?

I sell a lot of books at flea markets and at good old fashioned rummage sales in my backyard too. These books tend to be more common books; think “used books” rather than “valuable books”.

I also sell a number of books at the antique stores we have booth and case space in. These tend to be antiquarian books, rare titles, and other collectible works which are perhaps not as commonly sought after but fetch higher prices.

What are the extra costs for selling books online, like shipping?

Shipping is a cost — and that includes boxes and mailers, packing tape, shipping labels (the ink and paper you print them on), and other items for packaging. There’s also fees for shipping insurance and tracking options. If you don’t consider those costs, or are charging less than you should, those amounts can really eat at any profits you may have.

And then there’s your time. There’s the time it takes to ship items, but even before you get to that, there’s a lot of time invested in properly listing books to sell. You’ll need to research each book to have an idea of its value in order to set your price or start the bidding at. You’ll need to accurately describe the book and its condition; you may need to photograph or scan the book itself. You may need to respond to questions from potential buyers. And then there’s the time spent organizing your books for sale. (You have to be able to find a title quickly to answer questions and to ship it.) This time can add up surprisingly fast.

As the saying goes, time is money. If, after you take out the fees for listing and selling at a site, you find you are only getting a dollar or something for your book, it may not be worth your time to sell books online.

Is there a danger of being ripped off by a book purchaser?

Most sites have protections for both seller and buyer. Sites like PayPal favor the buyer a lot, which means you are best off using the insurance and delivery tracking options to protect yourself. But still, even when you’ve accurately described the item and taken the shipping precautions, issues may still arise. There are fewer scammers than one fears; but there is always the element of just bad luck with a sale or shipping. Sometimes things just end up going sideways and aggravating you, if not costing you money outright.

What advice would you give to someone starting to sell their own books online?

Whether you are simply down-sizing your book collection or planning on generating income by selling books, it’s really important to know what you have. Not just in terms of the books themselves and their values, but your time constraints, skill sets (or willingness to learn), and desire to want to do the work it takes.

It can all seem overwhelming, I know! But once you have realistic ideas and expectations, the right options for you are much easier to see.

Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed. Is there anything you would like to add?

Just that most of this information applies to used or past issues of magazines and periodicals as well — and anything vintage or antique, for that matter. While a lot of the collecting shows make it sound like there’s treasure in your attic or basement, it’s not as easy as many people think it is. Learning to identify and separate the “gems” from the “junk” takes time and experience, as does the act of selling it. There is money to be made, for sure; but, as the saying goes, there’s no easy money.

And thank you so much for including me in your discussion about selling books!

Horror Show and Tell

I got the idea for this when I read a title “Horror Hotel Show and Tell” at Nippleicious.

It’s almost Halloween so when you notice an odd little Gothic-looking boutique on the main street of town You decide to go in, just for a quick look. On the outside it was tidy, whitewashed with wood trim of spirals and skulls and carved jack-0-lanterns along the front of the shop.

Inside the shelves are floor to ceiling tall and cover all four walls and the spaces in between. It’s cluttered and dusty, even the air seems to be foggy with dust. There are so many items on display you couldn’t see them all if you spent the whole day in the shop. But, now you’re curious enough for more than a quick peek at them all.

One whole wall just has old books. Really old books, the kind you usually only see under glass protection at the library or museum. The other three walls have signs on each display: Gifts for Friends, Gifts for Family, Gifts for Yourself. There are six shelves free standing in the room and each has it’s own sign as well: Gifts for Annoying People, Gifts for Greedy People, Gifts for Rude People, Gifts for Sloppy People, Gifts for Angry People, Gifts for Jealous People.

In one corner you notice a gargoyle. It seems to be breathing. Although you don’t take a step closer you are drawn to it, pulled somehow to stand next to it. The gargoyle opens it’s eyes and looks up at you. It’s alive! As your heart jumps into your throat, keeping you from taking a breath you are unable to move no matter how much you really, really want to leave now.

“What do you require?, asks the gargoyle. It patiently waits for you to answer. After awhile, you lose some of your panic and begin to feel you should say something… anything.

“I just came to browse. The shop looked so interesting from outside. I’ve never noticed it here in town before.” One you start pushing the words out talking gets easier and the gargoyle almost seems to smile, glad to be talking to someone.

“The store is only here for the day. Then I move on to another town. Just for the month of October. I’m retired, mostly.” The gargoyle waves a hand towards the shelves of goods. “You are welcome to look, let me know if you would like to know more about any of the items.”

When it finishes speaking it just goes quiet, reading a book you notice. What else can you do now but look around. Which shelf do you start with and what do you find there?